A member of a civil society organization says the targeted sanctions by the United States on South Sudanese leaders will not encourage consolidation of efforts to realize peace in the country.
Musa Farid, from the Voluntary Taskforce says sanctions have the potential to advance non-cooperation from targeted individuals rather than acting as incentive for meaningful dialogue.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Deputy Chief of Defense, Lieutenant General Malek Reuben Riak, General Paul Malong, and Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth
The Office of Foreign Assets Control also issued an advisory to financial institutions, which should trigger new investigations and filing of additional suspicious activity reports that can lead to further action.
The sanctions freeze assets that may be within the U.S. jurisdictions, ban them from traveling to the U.S. and bar Americans from doing business with them.
It mentioned that three companies reportedly owned by General Malek be targeted.
According to the Treasury Department, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/south_sudan.aspx the current sanctions block the property and interests in property of persons that are determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to South Sudan.
It says the individuals may have contributed actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan, actions or policies that threaten transitional agreements or undermine democratic processes or institutions in South Sudan, actions or policies that have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation or peace talks or processes.
However, an activist, Musa Farid said this is a wrong approach of encouraging these leaders to work for peace in South Sudan.
“If the interest is to bring peace in the country, you don’t begin by imposing conditions. Sanctions is not the way to go,” said Musa.
The department also say the individuals may have obstructed the activities of international peacekeeping, diplomatic, or humanitarian missions in South Sudan, or of the delivery or distribution of, or access to, humanitarian assistance, or attacks against United Nations missions, international security presences, or other peacekeeping operations.
The spokesperson of the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mawien Makol has described the sanctions as unfortunate, and that it would push for reconsideration.
The co-founder of the Sentry Report under Enough Project, John Prendegast says the individual sanctions are inadequate and called for more imposition of network sanctions on the leadership of the government and rebels and commercial collaborators, both domestic and international.
“These network sanctions should be combined with aggressive anti-money laundering initiatives to really undermine their ability to move illicit finances through the international banking system. No peace effort has a chance of succeeding until a serious cost has been imposed on those who are profiting from war both financially and politically,” Prendegast said.
But Musa Farid disagrees, saying such sanctions should not be detrimental to peace efforts being initiated in the country. He said the U.S should allow for modalities adopted in the peace agreement to handle such issues.
“We feel that the chapter 5 of the peace agreement will handle such individuals. If they have done anything, then they need to be taken through the judicial system,” he said.
Chapter V of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan talks about Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing, in which upon inception, the Transitional Government shall have initiated legislation for the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, An independent Hybrid Court for South Sudan, and the Compensation and Reparation Authority.
So far, these institutions have not been established.
“What we need is reconciliation, but targeting some individuals –especially the persons who are said –what if they go and begin fighting the system? So we feel that engaging them in a meaningful way is better than these targeted sanctions,” Musa added.
Both the SPLA spokesperson, Brigadier General Lul Ruai, and the spokesperson in the office of the First Vice President, Chuol Laam told Eye Radio that the government will soon adopt an official statement and position as a respond to the declared sanctions.
Efforts to reach the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia for comments were futile.